Pete's got an interesting post at ESPN.com summarizing his thoughts on why players and fans shouldn't complain about the short tennis off-season:
But let's keep a few things about tennis in perspective. First, it's an individual sport; tennis players are, at least in theory, free to come and go as they please -- and to train (or not) as they see fit. They can jump onto, or off, the circuit at their discretion. The only person to pay a price for his or her absence is said player (and his or her fans).
And the sport itself has always been a year-round enterprise. This isn't because the Lords of Tennis were slave drivers, refusing to give players a seasonal break. It's because tennis is a global and seasonal sport, and it's always summer somewhere. Let's remember that when the annual holiday bowl games are being played by college football squads, often amid driving snow flurries, it's summer -- and time to think tennis -- in Australia, a major tennis outpost.
The larger truth lurking beneath the surface is that tennis is, in every sense, a periodic sport. The game is organized around the Grand Slam events, and those majors found their places on the calendar over a century-long desire to hold them at the right time and place in each nation. The four majors are really the four national championships of their respective countries, and each is the highlight of what might be called that nation's tennis season.
Players have always responded to this reality by embracing a judicious approach to the sport. They customarily chose their spots, alternating rest and play in the way that best suited their preferences (in terms of surface and tournament location). And that works, precisely because tennis is an individual sport populated by, essentially, freelancers. The athletes have always controlled how much they worked, and where, in a shifting international workplace. That's not a bad model.
The real culprit here is the demands placed on the players by the tours, mainly because of the way the rankings system works. The players are under pressure to play, but as freelancers they're also able to say no -- either overtly or by falling back on tennis' nuclear option: the claim (or reality) of injury or fatigue.
I tend to agree with his points. No one is forcing these players to play as much as they do. To the extent that the rankings systems are set up to "encourage" players to play as much as possible, then yeah, they're going to play a lot if they want that #1 ranking. But the top players all agree (well, except for JJ apparently) that the Slams are where it's at. So to the extent the players can shape their schedules to revolve around those four Slams, they really don't need to be playing 20 tourneys a year. If they do and they get tired, that's their fault, no?
Another good read here where Pete elaborates on his point.